Lalita Niwas land scam probe now at final stage: CIAA

Published On: July 20, 2019 06:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Spokesperson Pradeep Koirala said those involved in registering government land as private property will be booked soon

KATHMANDU, July 20: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Friday said that investigations into the notorious Lalita Niwas land scam have reached the final stage.

This response comes at a time when the anti-graft body was being criticized for not booking high-profile bureaucrats, politicians and the so-called land mafia for registering government land as private property.

The CIAA said it will file corruption cases at the earliest against those involved in registering the roughly 114 ropanis of Baluwatar land as private property.

Asked about the progress in investigations, CIAA spokesperson Pradeep Kumar Koirala said the anti-graft body has already interrogated most of the government officials and the land mafia accused in the scam. If some of the individuals who are implicated don't show up and record their statements before the anti-graft body despite frequent public calls to do so, they will face action in accordance with existing law.

“I cannot say exactly on what date we will be filing the cases. But the investigations are at the final stage and cases will be filed soon,” said Koirala adding, “Their absence will not at all affect the process.”

The anti-graft body had issued a public notice requesting all tenants of the lands in question to appear before the commission for interrogations.

Investigators from the CIAA have of late interrogated Rukma Shumsher JBR, his cousins Hemadri Shumsher JBR and Hatak Shumsher JBR, former CIAA chief Deep Kumar Basnyat, former minister Chhabi Raj Pant, former land reform secretary Dinesh Hari Adhikari, and then Dilli Bazaar Land Revenue Office chiefs Kaladhar Deuja and Tikarma Ghimire and recorded their statements.

Both the CIAA and the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police are currently investigating the role of staff at Dilli Bazar Land Revenue Office, the Department of Land Revenue, the Department of Survey and the Samarjang Company under the Home Ministry in the ownership transfer of Lalita Niwas land .

The kin of Subarna SJB Rana, father of Rukma Shumsher JBR, the purported tenants, the land mafia and land revenue officials succeeded in transferring the ownership of the land that was acquired by the government with compensation between 2021 BS to 2028 BS.

Ram Kumar Subedi, Shobha Kanta Dhakal and Bhat Bhateni Supermarket chain owner Min Bahadur Gurung, among others, had transferred the ownership of the land to their own names in 2049 BS.

Dhakal has reportedly surrendered before the anti-graft body and recorded his statement, according to sources.

Subedi, however, is still at large.

Former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and former finance minister Bishnu Poudel have also been dragged into the controversy for assisting in the registration of government land as private property.

Poudel has purchased eight annas of the controversial land .

A probe committee formed under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital has disclosed that the ownership of the land was transferred with the involvement of the then prime minister, ministers, secretaries and officials at the land revenue and survey offices in Kathmandu.

The government had acquired a total of 299 ropani 9 aana and 3 paisa of land at Lalita Niwas land owned by Subarna Shumsher Rana and his family. Of the total acquired from them, Subarna Shumsher and his son recaptured 114 ropani and this was sold to land mafia operative Shobhakant Dhakal , Ram Kumar Subedi and Min Bahadur Gurung.

The land was divided up into plots after the land mafia registered it in their own names in collusion with politicians and bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft body has said the investigations into other high-profile corruption cases such as those involving Nepal Oil Corporation , the printing of National IDs and the widebody aircraft purchase are ongoing. “We are still investigating these matters and will disclose the state of progress when the investigations are c0ncluded,” said Koirala.

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